Reid v. State

Decision Date01 September 1983
Docket NumberNo. 156,156
Citation302 Md. 811,490 A.2d 1289
PartiesGregory REID v. STATE of Maryland. ,
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

David P. Sutton, Washington, D.C. (Alan H. Murrell, Public Defender, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Stephanie J. Lane, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Stephen H. Sachs, Atty. Gen., Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.

Argued before MURPHY, C.J., ELDRIDGE, COLE, DAVIDSON, * RODOWSKY and COUCH, JJ., and JAMES C. MORTON, Jr., Associate Judge of the Court of Special Appeals (retired), Specially Assigned.

MORTON, Judge.

In 1982 legislation was passed by the General Assembly requiring the inclusion of a victim impact statement in a presentence investigation if the defendant committed a felony causing physical, psychological or economic injury to the victim and requiring an investigation, and an impact statement, if the defendant committed a misdemeanor that caused serious physical injury or death. Laws of 1982, Ch. 494. The statute amended by the legislation, Md.Code (1957, 1982 Repl.Vol.) Art. 41, § 124 further states, in subsection (c)(2)(ii), "If the court does not order a presentence investigation, the State's Attorney may prepare a victim impact statement to be submitted to the court and the defendant...." At issue in the present case is whether the consideration at sentencing of a supplemental victim impact statement offered by the State violates § 124(c) and was prejudicial to the defendant at sentencing.

We find such statements to be neither violative of Art. 41, § 124(c) nor, necessarily, an impermissible consideration for the sentencing judge.


Gregory Reid ("Reid") was convicted, on August 10, 1982, of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense and robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, by a jury in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The victim, a 17 year-old girl, was home alone at the time of the crime. Reid forced his way into her family's apartment by threatening the victim with a knife. After binding the victim's hands and eyes and gagging her mouth, Reid ransacked the apartment. He then forced the victim to perform fellatio and raped her. The victim testified against Reid at trial.

A presentence investigation was conducted by the Division of Parole and Probation following the conviction. The procedure followed in that case, and presumably all such cases in Montgomery County, was that a victim impact questionnaire was sent to the victim by the Montgomery County State's Attorney Victim/Witness Program. Since a presentence investigation was required, the completed questionnaire was forwarded to the probation officer in charge of the investigation at his request and used to fill out the Division's standard-form victim impact statement. In the present case, the Division was also notified by the State that a victim impact statement had been prepared by the victim and that it was forwarded directly to the court.

The Victim Impact Statement submitted by the Division of Parole and Probation as part of its presentence investigation contained four categories: economic loss, physical injury, psychological impact and additional information. Under the heading "Psychological Impact" was the subheading "Effect upon victim's personal welfare or familial relationships." The response typed in by the probation officer stated " '* Please see my Victim Impact Statement.' " A notation to that stated, "Statement not made available to investigating agent." An additional note at the end of the report stated, "Victim Impact Statement provided by State's Attorney which will be forwarded directly to court by them."

The State's Victim Impact Statement quoted directly from the victim the effects of the crime on her daily life as well as her family's, the effect of television shows and newspaper articles, and finally the victim's opinion of the sentence that should be imposed.

Reid was provided with copies of both statements prior to sentencing and filed a motion to strike the State's Victim Impact Statement or at least those references to sentencing made by the victim. At the sentencing proceeding on November 22, 1982, the judge refused to strike the State's statement but did state he would not consider the victim's opinion as to sentencing to be determinative. The court then sentenced Reid to life imprisonment on the first-degree rape conviction, with a consecutive 20-year sentence on the first-degree sexual offense conviction and a consecutive 10-year sentence on the robbery conviction.

On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals in an unreported decision upheld the sentence imposed. Citing Johnson v. State, 274 Md. 536, 336 A.2d 113 (1975), the Court allowed the additional Victim Impact Statement holding it was within the broad discretion of the sentencing judge to consider. The intermediate court, like the trial court, considered Art. 41, § 124(c) as establishing the minimum standard for information to be obtained from the victim, not the maximum. This Court granted certiorari to consider the important issue raised.


Reid alleges primarily that the State's Victim Impact Statement is in violation of Art. 41, § 124 and therefore cannot be considered by the court at sentencing. According to the Appellant, the only input the victim is allowed is through the Victim Impact Statement submitted by the Division of Parole and Probation. Only if a presentence investigation is specifically not ordered may the State's Attorney submit a statement as to victim impact. As for the wide discretion granted the sentencing judge in considering such information, Reid claims this is limited by the statute and where such boundaries are exceeded the sentence must be vacated. Reid points to the need for an objective and detached review by the probation officer of the often emotional victim statement as the purpose behind the statute. Such review is allegedly necessary to achieve balance, objectivity and fairness to which the defendant is entitled at sentencing. Reid also claims the "incorporation" of the State's Victim Impact Statement into the presentence investigation statement, sight unseen, compromised that objectivity and fairness. Finally, Reid alleges that the particular statements within the State's Victim Impact Statement were prejudicial and thus require that the sentence be reversed.

The State contends that its Victim Impact Statement was merely additional information and it should be left to the sentencing judge's discretion whether to consider. Section 124(c), the State argues, does not limit the extent of the court's inquiry but rather ensures that at least a minimum of information on victim impact is provided and will be considered by the court at sentencing. As for the supplemental statement itself, the State contends that no prejudice can be shown and points to the fact that the trial judge specifically refused to consider the victim's recommendation as to sentencing.


The stated purposes of Ch. 494 are:

"[R]equiring the Division of Parole and Probation to prepare presentence investigations in certain cases; requiring the Division of Parole and Probation to include a Victim Impact Statement within a presentence investigation, prior to the sentencing of certain defendants by the circuit courts; authorizing a State's Attorney to prepare a Victim Impact Statement under certain circumstances; requiring the court to consider the Victim Impact Statement; providing for the contents of the Statement; and generally relating to Victim Impact Statements."

In a hearing before the State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on January 19, 1982, the sponsor of the legislation, Senator Garrity, in a prepared statement, stressed the purpose behind the proposed legislation, victim involvement in the sentencing proceedings. He stated:

"Certainly, I realize that most judges, as a matter of course, will consider the victim impact in determining sentence. This bill asks that every judge make this consideration. Even more important, it provides the mechanism to place at the judge's disposal all the facts regarding impact of the crime on the victim.

"Especially with regard to plea bargaining, the impact report may be the only way the judge can be apprised of the crime's impact on the victim.

"I believe in compassionate justice, but I object to the type of one-sided compassion, practiced in many courtrooms. I refer to the tendency to concentrate on seeking out mitigating circumstances and rehabilitative potential as a rationale for meting out less than harsh sentences to offenders.

"Surely, there should be some place in the sentencing procedure to view the victim with compassion and assess the harm done. And just as surely, the extent of that harm should be a major factor to be considered when sentencing is determined."

As stated repeatedly by this Court, the cardinal rule of statutory construction is to ascertain and carry out the real legislative intent. Management Personnel Services, Inc. v. Sandefur, 300 Md. 332, 478 A.2d 310 (1984); Police Comm'r v. Dowling, 281 Md. 412, 418, 379 A.2d 1007, 1010 (1977). As indicated from the legislative history, the intent of Chapter 494 was to provide the victim access to the sentencing process by ensuring that at least in one way the effects of the crime on the victim will be presented to and considered by the sentencing judge.

The legislative history shows that the Division of Parole and Probation had urged the sponsor to make any victim impact statement to be prepared by the Division part of its presentence investigation report. 1 The Division argued that "[t]he [victim impact] investigation report would have limited value as a sentencing tool if the judge were the only person to utilize this document." By contrast, a presentence report would be "available to classification counselors at intake, the staff of the Parole Commission at parole hearings, and parole agents while under supervision." 2 Also, the...

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